Nanny and Poppy


Nanny and Poppy paid us a visit last night, recounting for posterity, via DVD, their lives. How Poppy came to the US from Russia in 1929, how they met as teenagers, how Nanny as a young girl worked to help support her family, how their happiest day was the day Poppy returned home from World War II, how Poppy lost a few thousand dollars playing blackjack with the Shah of Iran. Oh, the stories.

They were as vital and vibrant as ever. Mom interviewed them in Florida in January 1999, just about one year before my dad died. Poppy still seemed relatively strong and Nanny was as neat as ever.

Chloe watched the movie with me. And we both cried for different reasons. Chloe because seeing them reminded her of how small our family is, how she never really got to know Poppy, how she only has one living grandparent (who carries the weight of four), how she never met my dad…

I cried not just because Chloe was so upset, but also because seeing Nanny and Poppy together brought back a torrent of random memories. Sitting on the plastic-covered furniture in their apartment in Brooklyn, crushing Poppy’s carton of cigarettes in a vain attempt to get him to stop smoking, using the crumb collector on their dining room table, sitting in Poppy’s reclining chair watching MTV in its infancy, going swimming in the kidney-shaped pool with Nanny and Poppy, gripping the armrest of their car in abject fear whenever Nanny took wheel, going to Denny’s for breakfast with Poppy, going for Haagen Dazs ice cream after the movies, having to listen to Nanny’s snores when she fell asleep at the movies…and on and on.

But most of all, my tears flowed because watching how tenderly they interacted with each other on the video served as a glorious reminder of how much they still loved each other after more than six decades together.

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